Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best Classical recording 2007 Time Out New York

December 28, 2007
Best of 2007.
As published in the December 27 edition of Time Out New York, here is my annual list of the top ten events, happenings and developments in New York City's classical music scene for 2007 (in alphabetical order), followed by lists of my top ten classical and non-classical recordings.
"Berlin in Lights" Carnegie Hall's ambitious salute to Germany's cultural capital offered context for incandescent performances by Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle and many more.
Concrete Robert Ashley's latest multimedia opera took us someplace we'd never been before: deep inside the composer's most personal memories.
Sasha Cooke After an arresting summer cameo at the Bard Music Festival,
this young mezzo served notice of a major talent on the rise at Zankel Hall in October. [New note: Cooke is currently appearing as the Sandman in the Met's Hansel and Gretel, and will present a concert titled "The Eternal Feminine" at Ico Gallery (formerly Gallerie Icosahedron) on Thursday, January 10 at 7pm.]
Delusion of the Fury Japan Society's sharp production of Harry Partch's quirky magnum opus was the year's most moving revival.
DG Web Shop The venerable Deutsche Grammophon label unveiled the first
download store guaranteed to please the pickiest classical audiophile.
ICE Burg The International Contemporary Ensemble set up shop in Brooklyn in spring, and promptly mounted its biggest, most diverse New York season to date.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia How could the Metropolitan Opera improve Bartlett Sher's winning new production? By adding spunky mezzo
Joyce DiDonato to the mix.
Iphigénie en Tauride Susan Graham and Plácido Domingo were riveting in this profound Gluck drama, while director Stephen Wadsworth deftly balanced the mythic and the intimate.
Nico Muhly In his debut Zankel Hall showcase, wildly inventive composer
Muhly stacked his quirky postclassical pieces up against the Tudor church music that first fired his imagination.
What Next? Elliott Carter marked his 99th birthday with a sold-out run of his cryptic opera at Miller Theatre.
Top Ten Classical Recordings
1. J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations (Telarc) Simone Dinnerstein's intensely personal take on this keyboard cornerstone polarized critics... and became a runaway hit.
2. Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians (Innova) Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble made a disc of the minimalist masterpiece that won the composer's approval.
3. Osvaldo Golijov Oceana (Deutsche Grammophon) Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony demonstrated the infinite variety of the Argentine composer's music.
4. Robert Ashley Now Eleanor's Idea (Lovely Music) More than a decade after the last performance of Ashley's freewheeling lowrider exegesis, recording technology has finally caught up.
5. Tristan Murail Winter Fragments (Aeon) Michel Galante's excellent Argento Chamber Ensemble made its CD debut with crystalline landscapes from a modern French master.
6. Sibelius and Lindberg Violin Concertos (Sony Classical) Lisa Batiashvili reveled in the cool fire of Sibelius's familiar showpiece, and introduced a new classic by Lindberg.
7. Bridget Kibbey Love Is Come Again (self-released) With playing, production and packaging as gorgeous as local harpist Kibbey provided on her first CD, who needs a record label?
8. Mark Padmore As Steals the Morn... (Harmonia Mundi) Handel recitals arrive more often than crosstown buses, but British tenor Padmore commanded respect for his poise and precise diction.
9. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 3 and 8 (RCA Red Seal) Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie turned two well-worn standards into brisk, bracing voyages of discovery.
10. Michael Harrison Revelation (Cantaloupe) Pianist-composer Harrison documented his just-intonation solo manifesto, and the results were completely absorbing.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Zauber in jedem Ton



December 26, 2007


VON OLAF WEIDEN

Eine Festgabe in der voll besetzten Philharmonie präsentierten die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und ihr künstlerischer Leiter Paavo Järvi. Das momentan Beethoven-fixierte Orchester hatte Viktoria Mullova für das Violinkonzert des Bonner Meisters gewinnen können.
Und sie zauberte jeden Ton glühend und glanzvoll, aber ohne jedes romantische Expressivo aus den Saiten ihres kostbaren Instruments. Dieser Beethoven machte tatsächlich Lust auf den letzten Clou der russischen Geigerin, die mit Sir John Eliot Gardiner eine erste Interpretation von Brahms Violinkonzert auf der Darmsaite eingespielt hat.
Ein so satter Klang und so viel Wärme bei sparsam blühendem Vibrato, bei unaufgeregt fließenden virtuosen Figuren und einer unglaublichen, fein abgestimmten Intonation - das wird selbst in der Weihnachtszeit selten beschert.
Orchester, Dirigent und Solistin haben bereits eine erfolgreiche USA-Tournee bestritten, auf der der estnische Dirigent sein Orchester in seiner zweiten Heimat erstmals präsentierte. Und im Violinkonzert erfreuten die Kammermusiker aus Bremen mit ungewohnter Trennschärfe bei fließendem Übergang zwischen Solo und Begleitung.
Mullova strich die letzten Tutti-Takte der Einleitung mit, wuchs sodann aus dem Ton der Streichergruppe als Solistin heraus, das Orchester fiel in ein glühendes Pianissimo, hellwach. Jedes Orchester-Crescendo geriet zum Sonnenaufgang, verschaffte der Solostimme Nachdruck. Das war Kammermusik pur - fantastisch gelenkt von Järvi, überragend gestaltet von Viktoria Mullova.
Mystische Liebesgrüße entbietet das kleine Sibelius-Werk „Rakastava“ op. 14 für Streichorchester, entstanden aus einem Männerchor-Werk. Satt gefärbte traurige Melodien wechseln mit tänzerischen Rhythmen, das wenig eindrucksvolle Musikstück wurde edel aufgeführt.
Alle Sinfonien von Beethoven spielen Järvi und seine Bremer zur Zeit auf CDs ein. In Köln gab es die Pastorale - auf hohem Niveau, aber ohne revolutionäre Neuigkeiten.


Les dix disques classiques de l'année 2007 - Quatre grandes tendances décortiquées



December 27, 2007


Quatre tendances ont marqué l'année du disque classique en 2007. Tout d'abord, la volonté de nombreux éditeurs de «revisiter Beethoven» avec plusieurs nouvelles intégrales des sonates (Oppitz, Schiff, Lewis, Pollini) et des symphonies (Jarvi, Vanska, Pletnev, Skrowaczewski, Dausgaard, Nelson). Ensuite, la publication de récitals vocaux fort intéressants (Bartoli, Kozena, Jaroussky, Royal, Florez... ). Puis, la prédominance artistique persistante de l'étiquette Harmonia Mundi, qui propose la constante de qualité la plus grande, avec des artistes comme Alexandre Tharaud, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Paul van Nevel, René Jacobs, etc.
Finalement, le début des publications réservées à la vente par Internet, notamment de la part d'orchestres américains, comme le Philharmonique de New York et celui de Los Angeles. On ajoutera à cela la poursuite de la lente érosion des ventes et de l'offre en magasin, que la vente sur Internet n'arrive pas encore à contrebalancer. Au Québec, le phénomène le plus notable est évidemment le succès commercial des coffrets ornés du faciès d'Edgar Fruitier (voir Le Devoir du samedi 22 décembre). Voici notre choix, évidemment on ne peut plus subjectif...


1. Beethoven - Symphonies nos 3 et 8. Paavo Jarvi. RCA (SACD). Quand l'événement disque et l'événement concert se rencontrent... La vision beethovénienne tranchante de Paavo Jarvi et de la Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, son indissociable partenaire, a «sonné» les spectateurs réunis à l'amphithéâtre de Lanaudière cet été. Nous avons assez reproché par le passé à Paavo Jarvi que ses disques ne reflétaient pas totalement l'atmosphère électrique de ses concerts pour ne pas reconnaître ici la préservation intégrale de cet influx ravageur.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Last-minute culture-vulture gifts


December 23, 2007
The Cincinnati Enquirer


CINCINNATI SYMPHONY AND POPS RECORDINGS


For a last-minute gift with class, you only have to look as far as the two latest releases from the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops orchestras.One of the most enchanting CDs out this season is an album of selections from "The Nutcracker," recorded in Music Hall by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops for Telarc. Best-loved tunes include "Waltz of the Snowflakes" (featuring the Cincinnati Children's Choir) and of course, "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," played by Julie Spangler on celesta.
Also recently released - and one of the most electrifying and deeply emotional albums to come from Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony - is a Tchaikovsky disc pairing the "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture" with Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique."
Both albums are on Telarc (CD: $15.99; Super audio CD: $19.99). Some stores are running low; so consider calling ahead. (The orchestra's box office is closed until Dec. 26.)
You can also download CSO and Pops CDs and individual tracks from iTunes onto your own disc.


By Janelle Gelfand

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique"


The Cincinnati Enquirer
December 23, 2007

Järvi sets romantic mood
By Janelle Gelfand


The newest album from Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra includes some of the most romantic music ever written. The all-Tchaikovsky disc pairs the composer's youthful "Romeo and Juliet" Overture-Fantasy with his last and perhaps greatest work, Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique."
These thrilling performances from the Cincinnati Symphony were recorded with excellent sound quality by Telarc last year in Music Hall.
The Overture-Fantasy vividly evokes scenes from Shakespeare's famous story of the doomed lovers, from the feuding Capulets and Montagues to the tender love theme, with a dark undercurrent always present. Järvi's reading is well-paced, beautifully phrased and full of atmosphere. When the love theme blossoms into a sweeping climax in strings and horns, the effect is deeply emotional.
The composer's Symphony No. 6, his final work, is also his most romantic, ending with a mournful finale that some say was a premonition of his early death. He died a week after its premiere.
Järvi's view of the "Pathetique" is an exhilarating mix of drama, intensity and drive, balanced by Tchaikovsky's hauntingly beautiful themes. The famous second theme glows warmly and with unexaggerated emotion, before the intimate moment gives way to an exuberant burst in timpani and brass. The waltz is graceful and sweeping, and the CSO's sonorous string sound is captured realistically.
If the third movement is electrifying, with its extroverted, pomp-filled march theme, the finale, marked "Adagio lamentoso," can only be described as shattering.
With Järvi's sense of flourish and drama, it all sounds spontaneous. The Cincinnati Symphony musicians have never sounded more polished, performing with crisp attack and moving expression.

Paavo and the Cincinnati Symphony: Best live performance of the year

2007 ten best list: performances

December 23rd, 2007 ·
posted by tmangan

Here are some of the best live performances I heard this year.
------------


April 20: Paavo Järvi conducting the Cincinnati Symphony in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable,” at Segerstrom Concert Hall. Review.
April 20: Leonidas Kavakos playing Brahms’ Violin Concerto at Segerstrom Concert Hall. Review.

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/entertainment/arts/abox/article_1666420.php

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Paavo is top choice once again...


December 21st, 2007
posted by tmangan
Let’s put it this way — these are the best I heard, but there were hundreds that I didn’t. It’s a rather traditional list, but I didn’t mean it to be that way. Some new music by Reich and Stockhausen almost made the cut. I’ve included two reissues (I usually don’t), but they were just too good to pass up. The order is not a ranking.

1. Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 8. Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Jarvi, conductor. RCA Red Seal.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paavo in Berlin!


December 17, 2007

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Paavo Järvi Dirigent

Viktoria Mullova Violine

Jean Sibelius Rakastava op. 14
Ludwig van Beethoven Violinkonzert D-Dur op. 61
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonie Nr. 6 F-Dur op. 68 »Pastorale«
Veranstalter
Konzertdirektion Hans Adler
Auguste-Viktoria-Straße 6414199 Berlin
Tel: +49 30 826 47 27
Fax: +49 30 826 35 20

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ClassicsToday.com’s 2007 Best of the Year Selection



LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphonies Nos. 3 "Eroica" & 8

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Paavo JärviRCA 88697-13066-2
http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=11114



And you thought that there was nothing more to be said in Beethoven! This cycle and Vänskä’s Minnesota recordings on BIS will continue to be the outstanding Beethoven symphony events of 2008. Järvi and his band manage to take the music to a new level in terms of sheer perfection of execution, but without ever sounding precious or affected, and without compromising its rugged integrity. Stunning!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WGUC's Top CD of 2007 - Tchaikovsky



December 12, 2007


By Robin Gehl



WVXU To paraphrase an old marketing slogan, "this is not your father's Oldsmobile," these are not your father's classical artists. A new generation of instrumentalists, singers, and conductors has been taking the concert stage by storm, represented in part by these ten standout recordings of 2007.
- - - - -
This marks the twelfth recording with Paavo Jarvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, one of few American orchestras with an active recording contract. Son of conducting icon Neeme Jarvi, whose own discography numbers hundreds of recordings, the younger Jarvi and the CSO—regarded as a top American orchestra—are on their way up, beautifully performing these two Tchaikovsky stalwarts.
Paavo Jarvi conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. (Telarc 80681)


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16741721

Sunday, December 09, 2007

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 4 & 7


December 5, 2007

Sinfonien Nr. 4 + 7 (SACD)
Komponist
Ludwig van Beethoven
Interpret Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen
Dirigent Paavo Järvi Label RCA/Sony BMG
Erscheinungsdatum August 2007

Rezension
Alle paar Jahre gelingt es, da kommt ein neuer Beethoven-Sinfonienzyklus, der die neun Klassiker wie selbstverständlich in die jeweilige Gegenwart überträgt. Diesmal stammt er von der Deutschen Kammerphilharmonie Bremen und ihrem Chefdirigenten Paavo Järvi. Nach der Dritten und Achten sind nun die Vierte und Siebte erschienen, auch sie in kammermusikalischer Transparenz und angriffslustiger Schlankheit, ausgewogen zwischen Intellekt und Emotion, leuchtender Farbigkeit und blitzsauber artikulierter Wucht. Kurz: eine historisch bestens informierte Interpretation – und dabei ganz und gar modern.

Carsten Fastner im Falter Wien 49/2007


Friday, December 07, 2007

CD REVIEW: Kullervo- CD of the month





CD REVIEW

RECORDING OF THE MONTH
By Stephen Hall




Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kullervo, symphonic poem for soloists, chorus and orchestra Op.7 (1892) [78:29] (I. Introduction: Allegro moderato [14:00] II. Kullervo’s Youth: Grave [15:56] III. Kullervo and his sister: Allegro vivace [24:19] IV. Kullervo goes to war: Alla Marcia [9:38]V. Kullervo’s death: Andante [14:32]) Randi Stene (mezzo); Peter Mattei (baritone) National Male Chorus of Estonia Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Paavo Järvi rec. Stockholm, 14-19 March 1997 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3913632 [78:29]


The Finnish national epic ‘Kalevala’ gave Sibelius many ‘springboards’ from early days to his last published work. The composer used ‘Jean’ rather than ‘Janne’ at the suggestion of an uncle so as to sound more European at a time when Finland was a mere Grand Duchy after years of Swedish and Russian rule. French was the ‘cultured’ language of Russia in the mid-19th century and since the 18th century it had been usual to Latinise Finnish surnames. Well, it made sense when the Finnish language could only be understood by Finns and Hungarians and the important northern country was neither Scandinavian nor Slavic. Never make the mistake of calling a Finn a Scandinavian or you might end up with a nose bleed! The Kalevala stands among the aural traditions of the ancient Irish cycles and the Icelandic sagas. It has some scant resemblance to Nordic mythology before it was sanitised but is actually closer to the myths of the Indus and Ganges. This is no real surprise when one digs and finds that so-called ‘Celtic’ migration from the sub-continent split into many strands. It so happened that the related tribes of modern Hungary and Finland retained linguistic similarities. Sibelius was born in 1865 into a Swedish-speaking family but his parents were aware of the country’s nationalism so sent Jean to a Finnish-speaking school. Under the loose control of Russia (1809-1917) such schools were permitted. In any event the Russia grip was weakening in Sibelius’s boyhood and Sweden had long ceased to be imperialistic, preferring trade with the west and development at home. He had been steeped in his nation’s history and had a love of the arctic forests and tundra of his land which he could ‘describe’ with his gift for orchestration. The student Sibelius was brilliant but lazy and became an alcoholic in the bohemian intellectual climate of Helsinki. What surprises me so much about this Kullervo with a young Paavo Järvi, is that the whole work is more ‘Sibelian’ than the rather later Symphony No.1, which has a bit too much Tchaikovsky for my liking. Maybe young Sibelius in 1892 was writing for the home market whereas the symphony was ‘for export’. In any event the result is Sibelius in his own voice achieved rather earlier than in the more formal works. A useful way of seeing this is to refer to Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ of just a few years later. This also ignored formal structure but remains a great composer’s first important utterance. Anthony Short’s insert notes with this CD explain that Sibelius called Kullervo a ‘symphony’ in letters to friends. However I go along with Mr Short in thinking that ‘symphonic cantata’ better fits the bill. Short’s reference to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Manfred’ is relevant but the obvious difference is that Kullervo uses soloists and choruses. Kullervo is a character featured in Runes 31 to 36 of the epic Kalevala. He is an unpromising subject because he was doomed to tragedy and had a ‘big attitude problem’ by latterday standards. The basic story is that Kullervo is brought up by his uncle, who has killed the boy’s father. The boy’s behaviour is delinquent and the uncle sells Kullervo into serfdom, presumably to be rid of him. Kullervo’s resentment and wish for vengeance lack the redeeming features of another Sibelius character, Leminkainnen, who was arrogant but at least heroic. Not so with Kullervo; he is generally violent and negative. On the way back to take on his uncle in a vengeful showdown, he meets a beggar girl whom he seduces (rapes) only to find that she was his sister who had been lost after their father’s murder. She kills herself in shame and Kullervo falls on his sword but only after he has killed the evil uncle and most of his family. It makes the last scene of Hamlet look like a small family squabble. The first movement of Kullervo, Allegro moderato in its economy of expression takes us straight to mature Sibelius. In this it differs from the first two symphonies. It is a rather compressed exhibition of the spareness of the landscape and the wandering of Kullervo’s exile but there’s joy there as well. Through this music are woven, like a toxin, presentiments of Kullervo’s trail of tragedy. This 14 minute movement could stand alone and be entirely convincing, especially under Paavo Järvi’s innate and evident understanding of what is going on. The second movement, ‘Kullervo’s youth’, is a mere 16 minute matter with a relentless undertone. There’s brilliant string writing but with tragic interjections over a main theme. This extends to the rest of the orchestra with an economy and pace akin to the Third Symphony. This evolves from a simple signature theme into other subjects of sturm und drang but tracks the story with very few slips into mere imitation. This is mature Sibelius and what Constant Lambert called the ‘music of the future’ in his book ‘Music Ho’. We are far ahead of the actual year of composition with Tchaikovsky still alive (for a year). The third and longest movement, ‘Kullervo and his sister’ begins with the upbeat melodies and urgent rhythms heard earlier. The drawback with this CD is that Virgin/EMI do not supply texts. Even a reference web link would have helped but none is supplied. Given that Anthony Short’s insert notes (p.4) describe the composer’s altercation with his mentor Wegelius about references to “items of clothing” we are left not actually knowing what went on. Was it consent, seduction or rape. True, troubled and dominant sounds occur from about four minutes into this ‘mini-opera’ of 24 minutes but without a text we are left in ignorance. I hope that Virgin will remedy this omission. I should however stress that the mezzo role – here brilliantly sung by Randi Stene - is far from weak. In the brief fourth movement, ‘Kullervo goes to war’ there is a lot of bellicose melodic stuff. This reflects both the anti-hero’s getting even with the family who dumped him and the primal sin of incest. Sibelius accordingly underpins the movement with insidious minor harmonies which deserve more attention than I have ever heard discussed. This is genius at work. The proof is in the last (fifth) movement, ‘Kullervo’s Death’. Such lonely, wilderness, lost-soul music is full-on in the literal Greek sense. Again, without a text we have no idea exactly what is being said, However Sibelius was so good at conveying meaning without words that we instantly recognise the dark clouds of hopelessness. They duly arrive about 10 minutes into this extraordinary and relentless movement. The distorted reprise of Kullervo’s ‘theme’ is not heroic but brave and terminally tragic. Everyone involved in this recording brings the sensitivity needed to articulate what is ‘Baltic’ music as distinct from Scandinavian. It is done to perfection. Engineering and production are invisible and inaudible just as it should be. All involved should be congratulated for showing again that Sibelius had started to plough his own furrow in frozen soil well before the works that made his name in Europe and America. Apart from there being no manufacturer-supplied text or net access to Runes 31-36 I recommend this CD as my choice of this summer.

CD REVIEW: Tüür- "Magma"-CD of the month

December 2007

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2007/Aug07/Tuur_magna_3857852.htm
By Rob Barnett

In a language carrying the stigmata of Jon Leifs, Messiaen's Turangalila and the later Panufnik Tüür's Magma is part-symphony and part-Concerto. There’s often jazzy syncopation to add to the palette. The work’s bearing and trajectory make it more symphony than concerto with the display almost always called for by the exigencies of the format. There are however moments when display seems in the ascendancy - for example at 16:00 onwards where the athletically active Glennie can almost be seen running full tilt from one instrument to another. It's an imposing work inhabiting a sound-world consonant with the primal molten material to which its title refers. The work ends in a malcontented jangling haze of sound punctuated by scamper and crash and then by a fade to niente.
Inquiétude du fini is distinguished by string and choral ululations and by a slalom sway recalling Penderecki and Hovhaness. The choral writing which is wonderfully done feels Gallic rather than archetypically Scandinavian. At times the more rhythmic material is redolent of Tippett (11:30). The earliest work here, this piece is notably more indebted to Schoenbergian dissonance than Magma.
Igavik is a portrait of the Estonian statesman and friend of the composer Lennart Meri. It was written for his funeral service and is intended to convey a short description of Meri's life. The music manages to be dark and yet to glitter with light and a sort of heroic awe.
The Path and the Traces was written during a family holiday in Crete. It's a work of quiet and disquiet, prompted by the experience of hearing Greek Orthodox plainchant, by the music of Arvo Part and by the death of Tüür's father. It's universe is ultimately confiding and consoling – a still small voice lapping and murmuring.
The notes are by Martin Anderson of Toccata fame and show respect and understanding. The recording is extremely well done.
Exceptional and patently sincere new music only failing to convince this listener in the display sections of the symphony.

CD REVIEW: Tüür- "Magma"-CD of the month

December, 2007
By Hubert Culot


www.MusicWebInternational.com

CD REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Erkki-Sven TÜÜR (b. 1959)
Symphony No.4 “Magma” (2002)a [31:06]
Inquiétude du fini (1992)b [18:29]
Igavik (2006)c [4:37]
The Path and the Traces (2005) [12:36]
Evelyn Glennie (percussion)a; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choirbc; Estonian National Male Choirc; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Paavo Järvi
rec. Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn, June 2006
Texts and translations included
VIRGIN CLASSICS 3857852 [67:23]


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Like the recent Tüür release from ECM (ECM New Series 1919 - see review), this new disc offers three fairly recent works, composed between 2002 and 2006, and a slightly earlier piece completed in 1992, which again allows for a fair appraisal of his stylistic journey while also emphasising some typical Tüür hallmarks.

The earliest work here, Inquiétude du fini, is a setting for small choir and chamber orchestra (flute, clarinet, bassoon and strings) of a poem in French by the Estonian writer Tōnu Ōnnepalu obliquely dealing with some present-day concern with the future of mankind and of the planet more generally, but in an oblique poetic manner, as Martin Anderson quite aptly puts it. The setting is mostly homophonic, with little attempt at counterpoint, but for a short almost aleatoric section (“Le silence! Les Mouches!”). In spite of its many felicities and its many typical Tüür touches, such as toccata-like string flourishes, glissandi, and cluster-like textures, this deeply felt and undoubtedly sincere score somewhat fails to satisfy completely, mainly – I think – because of its all-too-episodic structure that rather tends to emphasise the music’s eclecticism.

The main work in this selection is Tüür’s Symphony No.4 “Magma” for solo percussion and orchestra, the latter dispensing with any orchestral percussion, thus emphasising this work’s symphonic conception. Although in one vast single movement, the symphony clearly falls into four sections reflecting the traditional symphonic model. The first section opens with a massive, arresting gesture, three mighty waves of sound aptly suggesting a brutal eruption. This is then contrasted with softer episodes in which metal percussion predominates. The music, however, unfolds with the unpredictability of flowing magma. The second section is a Scherzo of some sort featuring a drum-set surrounded by powerful brass fanfares propelling the music with a formidable, irrepressible energy. It ends with an improvised cadenza for percussion leading into the third section, a nocturne of some sort, obviously designed to bring some marked contrast with the preceding sections; but it does not really succeed in slowing the music’s flow, that does not slacken in the least in the fourth section in spite of a brief episode characterised by “a tramping figure” in the cellos and basses. The symphony ends with a final irresistible final rush capped by a last resonating percussion shimmer. Tüür’s impressive Fourth Symphony is not only a most welcome addition to the repertoire for percussion and orchestra, although it is definitely not a concerto but a real symphonic work in which the percussion part is an integral part of the argument, but also one of Tüür’s finest works to date.

Dedicated to Arvo Pärt on his 70th birthday, The Path and the Traces for string orchestra was written, while the composer and his wife were on holiday in Crete. There, Tüür heard some Orthodox chant, which left its mark on the music, which also contains some brief allusions to Pärt’s music. The opening gesture (oscillating harmonics over a low pedal note, recalling the drone in Orthodox chanting) later functions as a refrain of some sort throughout the whole work. A very beautiful work, indeed, that pays some tribute to the composer’s mentor but also a deeply felt homage to Tüür’s father who died while he was writing this score.

The most recent work here was composed for the funeral service of Lennart Meri, who was the first foreign minister of the newly independent Estonia and later its president. Meri, who had been exiled to Siberia after the Second World War, was also a scholar interested in the other Finno-Ugric languages, a concern that also led Tormis to explore the music of other Finno-Ugric peoples (the result was, among other, his splendid cycle Forgotten Peoples). Igavik (“Eternity”) on a short poem by Doris Kareva and scored for male voices and orchestra is an occasional work, no doubt, but one that certainly means much to Estonian audiences. It nevertheless is a well-meant and sincerely felt tribute to an important Estonian statesman.

These impeccable performances are a pure joy from first to last. Needless to say, too, that Evelyn Glennie almost effortlessly navigates through the often demanding and physically taxing percussion part. The recorded sound is superb and Martin Anderson’s insert notes are as detailed and well informed as ever. I warmly recommend this magnificent disc not only to lovers of Tüür’s music but also to all those who enjoy vital, all-embracing music of great communicative strength.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Concert poster



December 6 and 7, 2007, 20h
Alte Oper, Frankfurt

HR Sinfonie Orchester

Paavo Jarvi

Music by Schubert, Brahms and Widmann -don't miss it!

Monday, December 03, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tüür- "Magma"

December 1, 2007


FAZ Newspaper – Feuilleton (SCHALLPLATTEN UND PHONO) S. 40

Riesige Bögen von Liegeklängen
"Magma" und weitere glutvolle Werke von Erkki-Sven Tüür

Gleichzeitig mit der eindrucksvollen Aufführung von Erkki-Sven Tüürs "Magma"-Sinfonie durch das Sinfonieorchester des Hessischen Rundfunks beim Tüür-Schwerpunkt des Frankfurter Auftakt-Festivals (siehe F.A.Z. vom 18. September) erschien die Einspielung des vierteiligen Einsätzers für Schlagzeug und Orchester. Doch keine Medienkampagne mit CD, Begleitkonzert und Werbe-Sauce war da am Werk, sondern schlicht ein glücklicher Zufall. Konzert und Aufnahme haben denn auch trotz gleicher Solistin, nämlich der fulminanten Evelyn Glennie, und trotz gleichem Dirigenten, dem HR-Orchesterchef Paavo Järvi, nichts miteinander zu tun. Järvi dirigiert auf dem Album vielmehr das agile Estnische National-Sinfonieorchester.

Das HR-Orchester hatte im Live-Konzert die Energieströme zur Glut erhitzt und die Klanggesteinsflüsse im dritten Teil, der einem klassischen langsamen Symphoniesatz vergleichbar ist, bis zur Statik erstarren lassen. Das estnische Orchester setzt dagegen noch mehr aufs Innenleben. Sorgfältig wird es ausgepinselt - zwar mit gewissen Einbußen für Furor und Kontraste, doch mit erheblicher Rücksicht auf den Solopart. In dieser ungleich konzertanteren Version ist Evelyn Glennie stets besser heraushörbar als in der symphonischer konzipierten Frankfurter Version.

Sie kann ihr Feuer ausspielen, obwohl auch hier der Schlagzeugpart in die orchestralen Energieschübe vernetzt bleibt, die sie antreibt und überhöht. Von den übrigen drei Werken des Albums erweist sich "The Path and the Traces" aus dem Jahr 2005 als besonders eindrucksvoll. Es geht auf Spuren in Tüürs Leben zurück: auf den griechisch-orthodoxen Chorgesang in einer Kathedrale auf Kreta, den der Komponist für ein Streicherensemble nachempfindet; auf Arvo Pärt, den Pfadfinder und Spurenleger für die nachfolgende estnische Komponistengeneration, dem Tüür dieses Werk zum siebzigsten Geburtstag widmete; und auf den Todeskampf und das friedliche Ende des eigenen Vaters.

Tüür konfrontiert die riesigen Bögen von Liegeklängen der tiefen Streicher mit dem hohen Streicherfiligran eines imaginären Chors - Kontrast von Ruhe und Bewegung, architektonischer Raumtiefe und deren kleinteiliger Ausstattung. Immer erregter tasten die Klangfiguren die Mauern und Säulen des fast statischen Bassfundaments ab. Anspielungen auf Pärts "Tintinnabuli"-Stil schleichen sich ein. Zum Schluss atmet der Streicher-"Chor" des Estnischen National-Sinfonieorchesters, der die schwebenden Rhythmen des Stücks zwölfeinhalb Minuten lang in hoher Ausdrucksspannung hält, friedlich, entspannt, erlöst aus.

ELLEN KOHLHAAS

Erkki-Sven Tüür, Magma. Sinfonie Nr. 4 für Schlagzeug und Sinfonieorchester; "Inquiétude du fini" für Kammerchor und Orchester; "The Path and the Traces" für Streicher. Evelyn Glennie, Estnischer Philharmonischer Kammerchor, Estnischer Nationaler Männerchor, Estnisches National-Sinfonieorchester, Paavo Järvi. Virgin 3 85785 29 (EMI)

CD REVIEW: Bernstein bestseller!


December 3, 2007

Who is the Finnish conductor this person is talking about?? :)

James Manheim, All Music Guide

Don't be put off by the combination of a British orchestra and a Finnish conductor -- part of the appeal of Leonard Bernstein's music lay in the way he stood a bit aside from the jazz, Broadway, and popular dance rhythms he used. He thought he was struggling with the ascendancy of serialism, but actually he was attempting something much more significant -- a rapprochement between the popular and symphonic realism. Like Gershwin, his predecessor, he had a way of turning popular dances and forms inside out. On a more concrete level, conductor Paavo Järvi studied with Bernstein early in his career and approaches his music with gusto in these reissued performances featuring the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The program is a lot of fun and makes sense, offering four Bernstein works, all from different phases of his career, that involve different ways of treating popular materials. The performance of the opening Prelude, Fugue and Riffs of 1955, with clarinetist Sabine Meyer and pianist Wayne Marshall, crackles with energy. This work was as close as Bernstein came to straight jazz, and it stands up to Marshall's forward-pushing style. Surrounding the familiar Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (for which the orchestra imported a Broadway trumpeter) are works from the beginning and end of Bernstein's compositional career. Facsimile, a condensation of an early Bernstein ballet score, is the only work in which the performers seem to flag. The ballet tells the story of a young woman who is pursuing happiness through multiple sexual encounters but finds only emptiness. The music in Bernstein's suite moves from inertia into a sequence of dances, beginning with a waltz and moving forward in time. These dances need to get just a bit more frenetic as they go along, and in this performance the later ones don't have quite the zing they should. In the 1980 Divertimento for orchestra, however, Järvi perfectly catches the humor in this short suite of dances written for the centenary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This compilation does what a compilation should: it gives insights into an important aspect of a composer's musical personality. Worthy of strong consideration from anyone who wants a single Bernstein disc, or as a first step for anyone who wants to expand outward from West Side Story to Bernstein's concert works.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

CD REVIEW: Tchaikovsky Sumphony No. 6 "Pathetique"



December 2, 2007


TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique;” Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – Paavo Jarvi, conductor – Telarc
The orchestra occupies an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. Very highly recommended.

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique;” Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – Paavo Jarvi, conductor – Telarc Multichannel SACD – SACD-60681, 67 mins. ****:Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony is probably my least favorite of the bunch. I find it’s predominantly mournful character depressing, to say the least, but I guess it really resonates with a lot of people, and brings them in touch with the misery of Tchaikovsky’s later life, which perhaps explains its popularity and frequent appearance on orchestral programs. Paavo Jarvi is a superb conductor; his pacing in the slower opening movement and finale are spot-on, and he gives us a lilting second-movement waltz and a lively third-movement allegro. His use of orchestral color is magnificent, and helps lift the entire disc, including the oft-played Romeo and Juliet, to an even higher level of enjoyment and appreciation than our expectations would lead us to believe possible.The disc was engineered by Michael Bishop, who’s also frequents the Audio Asylum hi-res forum, and never fails to offer insightful commentary about the nature of SACD, and SACD recording and mixing to the zany cast of characters that abound there. While I’m not always in agreement with his surround sound choices on jazz and more vocal-oriented jazz and pop material, his recordings in the classical arena are always head-and-shoulders above the pack, and this disc is no different from an acoustic standpoint. He manages to capture an accurate representation of Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and the orchestra occupies an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. Very highly recommended.- Tom Gibbs


CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 3 & 8


December 1, 2007
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies No. 3 and 8 – German Chamber Philharmonic, Bremen – Paavo Jarvi, conductor – Sony/BMG

The historically-informed presentation of these works proves, if anything, that the chamber approach to Beethoven can be both enjoyable and enlightening.
BEETHOVEN: Symphonies No. 3 and 8 – German Chamber Philharmonic, Bremen – Paavo Jarvi, conductor – Sony/BMG Multichannel SACD – 88697-13066-2, 70 mins. ****:


This entertaining and often astonishing disc represents the first offering from a currently in-progress complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies by the German Chamber Philharmonic, Bremen, and conductor Paavo Jarvi. The historically-informed presentation of these works proves, if anything, that the chamber approach to Beethoven can be both enjoyable and enlightening, and offers a truly valid alternative to the more typical big-band treatment that Beethoven generally is given. If this disc is representative of what’s to come, this cycle will undoubtedly become an instant classic and a necessary supplement to the multiple versions of these works already residing in your collection.Notable in the presentations here are the relatively rapid tempi, especially as compared to more mainstream full orchestra recordings. The Eroica’s second movement, the Marche Funebre, in Karajan’s classic 1963 version on DGG, clocks in at nearly 18 minutes, while Paavo Jarvi traverses the same territory in only 13 minutes. A rather sprightly funeral march – at a tempo much more likely at home in New Orleans than Vienna! However, Jarvi’s reading retains all the requisite magisterial stateliness necessary to any successful performance of this material, and while a chamber symphony simply cannot compete with the big-box orchestras in massed climaxes, they nonetheless managed to instill sufficient bravado and ultimately carry the day. Equally surprising to me were the numerous instances throughout both symphonies where the true “chamber” quality of the orchestra was manifested; smaller assemblages effectively presented whole passages that are traditionally portrayed by massed groups of instruments. Despite multiple playings of this disc over the last few weeks – including multiple repeats of individual movements – I’m still really struck by the sensation of “newness” I’ve experienced hearing this infinitely familiar music; it’s almost like hearing it for the first time!The sound quality is generally first-rate. I do, however, have one slight caveat – the sound is a bit close-up, and the acoustic is a touch dry for my personal tastes. There’s very little sense of the recorded acoustic, and this otherwise excellent disc would have been more well-served by the warmth of a nice church, rather than the somewhat sterile studio environment. Nonetheless, very highly recommended!- Tom Gibbs

Friday, November 30, 2007

CD REVIEW: Bartok and Lutoslawski


November 30, 2007


Review by Gavin Borchert, eMusic

One of the orchestral world's best-kept secrets displays their best. Ironically, it's partly because of the economic troubles besetting the classical recording industry that the Cincinnati Symphony, one of the orchestral world's best-kept secrets, is gaining greater recognition as the virtuoso ensemble it is: its relationship with Telarc has remained firm while other more prominent orchestras have lost their major-label connections. This disc of two showpieces, a Concerto for Orchestra from 1943 by Bartók and one from 1954 by Witold Lutoslawski, displays their prowess no less in the slow passages (Lutoslawski's serene, slightly eerie "Corale") than in the fast ones (the whirlwind finale of the Bartók or the glistening, unearthly colors of Lutoslawski's "Capriccio" movement). Their virtuosity even extends to raucousness: the "interruption" in Bartók's fourth movement, an un-affectionate parody of Shostakovich's "Leningrad" Symphony, has never sounded ruder. As a bonus, there's Lutoslawski's 1985 "Fanfare for Louisville," a minute and a half of brassy in-your-face-ness.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eesti dirigendid maailmalavadel


November 23, 2007

Recent news from an Estonian paper about Paavo.
Muusikamaailm
Priit Kuusk

Paavo Järvi võitis maineka Saksa heliplaadikriitikute aastapreemia Bremeni Deutsche Kammerphilharmoniega salvestatud Beethoveni III ja VIII sümfoonia CD eest firmalt Sony BMG/RCA. Preemiad anti üle Berliinis 17. XI. Et just on ilmunud ka nende Beethoveni sarja uus CD IV ja VII sümfooniaga, nimetas ajakiri Stereoplay neid salvestisi „Paavo Järvi Beethoveni-revolutsiooniks”. Cincinnati SOd juhatab Järvi sel kuul kolme kavaga, sh 2. – 10. XI viies kontseri Stravinski festivalil (ka Haydn, Beethoven, Šostakovitš). 8. XI anti Paavo Järvile üle aga Cincinnati MacDowelli medal.

http://www.sirp.ee/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=6348&Itemid=2

Alex Ross - Christmas present choice!


Gift ideas

I have updated my recommended CD list the left-hand column. I'm not quite ready to plunk down a best-of-the-year list, but the following CDs are certain to appear on it: GVSU's Music for 18 Musicians, Paavo Järvi's Beethoven symphonies, the astounding Teresa Stratas Salome DVD, and the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Wigmore Hall recital.

CD REVIEW: Beethoven Symphonies 3 & 8

October 21, 2007

RCA« Rroognntuudjuuu ! » Järvi encore !!!

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) : Symphonies n°3 en mi bémol majeur op. 55 ; n°4 en si bémol majeur op. 60 ; n°7 en la majeur op. 92 ; n°8 en fa majeur op. 93. Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, direction : Paavo Järvi. 2 CD RCA 88697029332 (n°4 et n°7) & 8697006552 (n°3 et n°8). Code barre : 8 86970 06552 (n°3 et n°8) et 8 86971 29332 (n°4 et n°7). Enregistré entre juin 2004 et août 2005 au à Berlin. Notice de présentation en anglais, français et allemand. Durée : 69. 32’et 69’23.
Nouveaux enregistrements et nouveaux miracles de la part du chef Paavo Järvi. Après avoir revisité en profondeur, les concertos pour orchestre de Bartòk et Lutoslawki, la musique anglaise, Rachmaninov et en attendant un album Tchaikovsky, le futur directeur de l’Orchestre de Paris décape Beethoven avec une rare efficacité. Il peut être difficile au lecteur de croire qu’après Harnoncourt il est encore possible d’aller plus loin dans les symphonies du grand sourd et à la tête d’un orchestre de chambre. Mais Jarvi, au lieu d’enfoncer les portes ouvertes avec une lecture rapide et brutale façon Antonini, prend le temps d’ausculter les moindres parcelles de musique à la recherche d’un éclairage ou d’un contre-chant inattendu. Dès lors, la force du musicien c’est de combiner l’horizontalité, la verticalité, avec le sens des détails et un beau travail sur les contrastes. Il suffit d’écouter la Symphonie n°8, souvent passage obligatoire des intégrales, et en particulier le délicat allegretto pour avoir une synthèse de son apport beethovénien. Dans un tempo allant, mais pas trop précipité, le chef tisse un véritable univers sonore suggestif où les allusions au métronome de Mälzel sonnent ici comme un véritable réveil matin alors que les nuances et les dynamiques sont saisissantes comme rarement. La Symphonie n°7 est l’autre merveille de ces deux albums, allégée à l’extrême la pâte sonore arrive à s’épancher et à danser avec des lignes qui s’imbriquent avec logique. On continue notre ascension des sommets avec une Symphonie n°4 qui se hisse au rang du légendaire enregistrement de Carlos Kleiber (Orfeo). Le sens des moindres détails et un irrésistible élan beethovénien arrachent absolument tout sur leur passage et toute indication de la partition prend ici un sens qu’il s’agisse d’un pizzicato des cordes ou d’une note grave du basson. La célèbre symphonie « héroïque » est emportée par la même rage. Mais un tel travail serait impensable dans un orchestre au diapason des intentions du chef. C’est là que la Philharmonie de chambre de Brême font un malheur par l’écoute mutuelle des vents et des cuivres et la précision radicale des cordes. On l’aura compris après les relectures pionnières des baroqueux, un nouveau stade de l’interprétation des symphonies de Beethoven est en passe d’être franchit : c’est un véritable bonheur pour l’oreille et l’esprit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CD REVIEW: Jarvi puts own stamp on Beethoven

November 8, 2007
The Cincinnati Post
By Mary-Ellyn Hutton

Paavo Järvi: Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, "Eroica." Symphony No. 8. RCA Red Seal. A.
Beethoven's nine symphonies are the summit of musical inspiration and aspiration. Every conductor wants to record a complete set at least once. Cincinnati Symphony music director Paavo Järvi has made the plunge on RCA Red Seal with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, of which he is artistic director. The first installment, Symphonies No. 3 and 8, was released in the U.S. to coincide with the DK's American visit during their 2007 world tour with Järvi last summer.
By all means buy it. It has won ecstatic reviews everywhere, including the top recording prize in Beethoven's home country (the 2007 German Record Critics Prize). Not only is it painstakingly performed and recorded - the character and presence of the sound will astonish you - but Järvi has given it a truly individual stamp. His goal, he said, was to find a middle ground between authentic performance practice (how the music would have been played in Beethoven's day) and later, more romantic conceptions.
Järvi has done so by allying Beethoven's famously brisk tempos and textural clarity with his updated feelings about the music. This is not Olympian Beethoven, elegant Beethoven or romantic Beethoven. It is gritty, down-to-earth, rock and roll Beethoven, genuinely in tune with the 21st century.
As performed by Järvi's 40 musicians, the music grabs the listener and doesn't let go. You can almost feel the whiplash of violin open strings, the vibrato-less tread of the "Eroica" Funeral March, the exuberant horn calls in the "Eroica" Scherzo. Järvi can move easily from head-banging intensity - Beethoven uses lots of "sforzando" (sudden accents) - to gentle lyricism as the musical moment requires. The Finale of the "Eroica" (one-minute slower, actually, than Michael Gielen's 1980 CSO recording) has tons of personality, from tongue-in-cheek wit to the hell-for-leather, Presto sprint at the end.
CD and SACD formats. Note: Sony BMG (owner/distributor of RCA Red Seal), indicates that this is the only Beethoven series recorded for hybrid Super Audio CD to date. The second installment, Beethoven's Fourth and Seventh Symphonies, will be released in the U.S. in 2008, with the third and fourth discs to follow at one-year intervals through 2009.
-- Mary Ellyn Hutton, The Post

CONCERT REVIEW: Mozart, Mahler Make Perfect Pairing



November 16, 2007

This is Mary-Ellyn Hutton's last review of Paavo and the CSO for the Cincinnati Post. The newspaper will cease to exist after January.

If I had been able to choose, I doubt I could have come up with a more fitting program for my last concert reviewing music director Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony for the Cincinnati Post. Järvi, who after this weekend, doesn’t conduct the CSO until January (the Post closes Dec. 31) paired Mozart and Mahler Thursday evening at Music Hall. Mozart was the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, a sunny work with a touch of melancholy in the slow movement. Soloist was Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter in a sublime CSO debut. The neurotic, chronically unhappy Mahler was represented by his 80-minute Symphony No. 7, which ends in a state of wild euphoria. Fliter, 34, is a patrician artist. Winner of the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award (highly prestigious because you can’t compete for it), she shaped the opening Allegro in exquisitely calibrated tones It made one think of the Golden Mean, the “just right” middle between two extremes. The F-sharp minor Adagio came across more wistful than impassioned, though the tender second theme, announced by the CSO, had that much more impact. She delivered volleys of notes in the perky finale, winning a warm reception from the crowd. Mahler’s Seventh couldn’t have been a greater contrast. Composed in 1904-05 during a turbulent time in his life, it brooks no “means,” golden or otherwise. The composer takes the listener on a roller coaster ride, a journey through a night of fitful dreams to a sunlit awakening. It has been called “Song of the Night” because of its three inner movements, “Nachtmusik” I and II (“Night Music”) and Scherzo: “Schattenhaft” (“Shadowy”). Despite the work’s relative unfamiliarity – it’s the least performed of Mahler’s nine symphonies and hasn’t been heard at the CSO since 1988 the Thursday crowd couldn’t help being swept off their feet by it. The performance was uneven, particularly at the beginning, though the CSO players warmed to their task. Their obvious enjoyment (everyone has something exciting to do) and Jarvi’s inspired conducting augur better readings when the concert repeats. It opened with a commanding solo by Peter Norton on euphonium, answered shrilly by clarinets, oboes and trumpets. This devolved into an angry march that drifted occasionally into quiet moments reminiscent of the last day on earth in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony (No. 2). “Nachtmusik” I opened with horn calls so like the buoyant Scherzo of Schumann’s “Rhenish” Symphony (No. 3) that the woodwind birdcalls, sharp, stinging effects and funereal touches, like cowbells against contra-bassoon, brought an ecological disaster to mind. The central Scherzo was a house of horrors, snarly and unsanitized, Järvi reveling in every creepy color and gesture. “Nachtmusik” II brought better dreams, opening with a downward-falling “answer” to an unspoken, doubtless romantic question. Principal hornist Elizabeth Freimuth delivered jocular solos and there were swoony passages tinged with mandolin (Paul Patterson) and guitar (Frank Ferrara). The really unleashed movement was the finale, where Mahler stirs in Wagner (Overture to “Die Meistersinger,” Fafner the dragon from “Siegfried”), Gilbert and Sullivan (“Mikado” complete with cymbal and bass drum) and snatches of schmaltz and the ever obsessive march. Toward the end it sounded as if it would break into Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March,” or perhaps “Star Wars.” In his six years with the CSO, Järvi has raised the bar on its achievement and brought a new sense of excitement to CSO performances. A wide dynamic range, vivid, transparent colors and no-quarter emotional appeal make the new CSO billboards in town (Järvi conducting against an electrical storm) right on target. The orchestra is in good hands. Repeats are 11 a.m. today, 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall.

Friday, November 16, 2007

CONCERT REVIEW: The CSO's Mahler universe

Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Cincinnati Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand

Here's tonight's symphony review. Look for an interview with Ingrid Fliter in Friday's Weekend section.Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 7 is his most misunderstood work, and a test of both orchestra and audience. On Thursday, after an absence of nearly two decades, Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra revisited this most enigmatic, quirky and ultimately, spectacular of symphonies.Mahler's Seventh, calling for massive forces, formed the evening's second half. Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major opened the program, in a sparkling reading by Ingrid Fliter.Mahler's symphonies all have underlying psychological meaning, and the Seventh seems to lay bare all of the composer's neuroses. Like his other symphonies, each of its five movements displays a universe of emotion in an endless quest for meaning.Järvi and the orchestra plunged energetically into the first movement, distinctive for its haunting sound of the euphonium (Peter Norton) and its rapid mood swings. Technically, its disparate threads didn't come together until midway, when frenzied passages dissolved into an atmospheric section of distant fanfares.Järvi's pacing was masterful and expression was red-blooded and full of bite. The contrasts of the three central scherzos were outlined in brilliant colors. "Night Music I," with its superbly-played horn calls, was hair-raising and grotesque; the second scherzo combined mystery and quirky humor.The most famously "Mahlerian" movement was "Night Music II," a pastoral serenade calling for mandolin and guitar. Winds and strings glowed in this rare moment of serenity.Despite its challenges, the musicians responded with exceptional playing. The finale was an exuberant display of symphonic glory, as brass and timpani unleashed their full power.To open, the Argentine pianist Fliter made her CSO debut in Mozart's A Major Concerto. The 34-year-old pianist was relatively unknown in America until about two years ago, when she won the Gilmore Competition, a $300,000 prize awarded to an unsuspecting pianist every four years.In a time of pianistic showmanship, it was a joy to see Mozart played with such beauty and without a trace of ego. Her touch was limpid, phrasing elegant and her phrases beautifully shaped.The slow movement was memorable for the pianist's singing tone and poetic phrasing. Its deeply interior quality was a stark contrast to the effervescent finale. The finale's fleet tempo and scampering runs left no doubt that this was composed in the time of "Figaro."Järvi, always with one eye on the keyboard, was at one with his soloist in this warm collaboration.The concert repeats at 11 a.m. today and 8 p.m. Saturday in Music Hall.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rising star plays Mozart with CSO

November 15, 2007

By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Cincinnati Post music writer

Whoever said cream rises to the top must have been thinking of Ingrid Fliter.

The Argentine pianist, 34, who makes her debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this week, was the recipient of the 2006 Gilmore Artist Award.

Unlike other piano prizes, the quadrennial Gilmore award does not involve a formal competition; it is bestowed without regard to age or nationality through a confidential nomination and evaluation process. Judges, rather like restaurant critics, are anonymous and may observe a candidate for years before selecting a winner. Highly prestigious, the award carries a stipend of $300,000 and virtually guarantees a berth among the top rank of international pianists.

Fliter (pronounced FLEE-ter), a protégé of fellow Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, will perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K.488, at 7:30 tonight, 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Hall. CSO music director Paavo Järvi, who led Fliter's debut at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival in August, will conduct.

The program juxtaposes Mozart's sunny concerto with Mahler's Symphony No. 7. Dating from 1904-05, Mahler's five-movement seventh is perhaps the least known and appreciated of his nine symphonies. In a way, though, it's the most engrossing because of its wide emotional range. Two of the inner movements are called "Nachtmusik" ("Night Music"). One utilizes guitar and mandolin. The third movement, called Scherzo, is marked "Schattenhaft" ("Shadowy"). The symphony has been called "Song of the Night" (not by Mahler) and viewed as a progression from night to day, with all the charms and terrors that may imply.

For a preview of the giddy finale, visit http://video.aol.com for Mahler guru Leonard Bernstein leading the Vienna Philharmonic (click "Categories," "Music" "Classical" then search for "Leonard Bernstein Mahler Symphony No. 7").

Admission is $12-$79.25, $10 for students. For tonight's concert only, admission includes a pre-concert buffet dinner in the Music Hall Ballroom (6:15-7:15 p.m.). Tickets are half-price for seniors for the evening concerts. Call (513) 381-3300, or order online at www.CincinnatiSymphony.org

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Paavo to receive the Cincinnati MacDowell Medal

November 8, 2007
The Cincinnati Post

Bravos to Järvi, who will receive the Cincinnati MacDowell Medal Sunday afternoon at CCM. The award, by the Cincinnati MacDowell Society, is made on an occasional basis to those "whose cultural contributions to the arts in the Cincinnati area are deemed most significant."
Järvi is only the 24th recipient in the society's 94-year history. Past honorees include artist John Ruthven, dancer/choreographer Frederic Franklin, opera bass Italo Tajo, Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel and CSO music directors Max Rudolf and Jesus Lopez-Cobos.
Named in honor of American composer Edward MacDowell, the Cincinnati MacDowell Society is one of 13 groups in the United States that help support the MacDowell Artists' Colony in New Hampshire.
The Colony itself received the National Medal of Arts in 1997 for its nurture and support of creative artists including Thornton Wilder, Aaron Copland, Alice Walker and Leonard Bernstein.
By Mary Ellyn Hutton at http://www.musicincincinnati.com/.

Music director to be honored

November 3, 2007
Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati MacDowell Society will present the Cincinnati MacDowell Medal to Paavo Järvi, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, on Nov. 11 at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
The medal is awarded for significant cultural contributions to the arts in Cincinnati. Järvi is the fifth Cincinnati Symphony music director to receive the award and the 24th recipient in the society's history of nearly 100 years. Other local medalists have included Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel and opera legend Italo Tajo.
The MacDowell Society is named for American composer Edward MacDowell. Cincinnati's society was founded in 1913 through the friendship between the MacDowells and three Cincinnati women - Mary Emery, Clara Baur and Bertha Baur (the latter founders of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music). It is one of 13 groups nationwide that support the MacDowell artist colony in New Hampshire, and it awards grants to local artists.

Janelle Gelfand

CONCERT REVIEW: Kim's tribute to Rostropovich is masterful

November 10, 2007
By Mary Ellyn Hutton Cincinnati Post music writer
Talk about virtuoso.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra principal cellist Eric Kim did honor to the greatest cellist of the 20th century (and probably any century) Friday night at Music Hall.
Kim was featured soloist in Dmitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1, dedicated, as was the entire concert, to the memory of Mstislav Rostropovich who died last spring (the work was written for and premiered by him in 1959).
Rostropovich would have been proud to hear the work performed with such depth of insight and mastery. In fact, like Beethoven last weekend (his "Eroica" Symphony), Kim and Shostakovich stole the show.
The concert, led by CSO music director Paavo Jarvi, was the second of the CSO's ongoing Stravinsky Festival, a focus on some of the composer's less often heard works that continues with his "L'histoire du soldat," to be performed by the CSO chamber Players Nov. 16 at Memorial Hall.
The Stravinsky fare Friday was his Symphony in Three Movements, a deceptively titled work that has the punch of his popular ballets like "The Rite of Spring." (Those who left at intermission expecting something dry or cerebral missed a listening experience of the first order.)
Kim glorified Shostakovich's mid-century work in every way. He met its technical demands with ease - never have double stops in thumb position sounded so easy. And the sound Kim drew from his cello! Beautiful is inadequate to describe it.
The first movement is dominated by a motoric, four-note motif, announced by the cello, similar to the composer's "motto" theme (a spelling of his initials in musical notation). It was high-pitched excitement from the start, including some splendid solos by principal hornist Elizabeth Freimuth and a perfectly timed ending delivered like a rifle shot by principal timpanist Patrick Schleker.
The second movement unfolded against a plaintive fabric of violas. There were some uncanny woodwind sonorities and ethereal dialogues with Kim, who capped a passage of fingered harmonics with muffled bow strokes against a soft timpani roll.
The third movement cadenza was astonishing - not just a showpiece, but a deep musical immersion that brought a hush to the hall. Shostakovich's satiric bite returned in the finale (which supposedly quotes Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's favorite song), along with the motto theme and some great chattering and cackling by the winds. The applause and cheers for Kim and the CSO were long and well deserved.
The Symphony in Three Movements was written under the "influence" of world events, Stravinsky wrote, specifically World War II and brutality he witnessed in pre-war Nazi Germany. Whatever the inspiration, it has all the "Rite" stuff, from propulsive rhythms and swatches of melody reminiscent of the maidens' "Spring Ronds" to the whooping horns of the "Sacrificial Dance" in "Rite of Spring." Pianist Michael Chertock was a standout in the outer movements, where the piano plays an important role, as was principal harpist Gillian Benet Sella in the more lyrical Andante, whose origin as music Stravinsky wrote for a vision of the Virgin Mary in the 1940s film "Song of Bernadette" resonated once or twice.
The final movement, which the composer likened to a "plot" about the defeat of the Nazis by the Allies, began with march-like optimism devolving into a delightful, bumbling "fugue" by piano, trombone and harp. The Yankees came to the rescue in racing spiccato figures in the strings and an all-stops pulled assault ending with a ringing, jazzy chord.
Jarvi opened with Haydn's Symphony No. 98, chosen, perhaps, because, like so much of Stravinsky, it has a surprise in it. Audience members may have wondered what Chertock was doing sitting at the harpsichord until a few bars before the end, where he suddenly added some rushing figures on the keyboard.
Repeat is 8 tonight at Music Hall.

CONCERT REVIEW: CSO cellist delivers masterful performance

November 10, 2007
Cincinnati Enquirer

By Janelle Gelfand
Eric Kim’s performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 was, quite simply, a tour-de-force.
The cello concerto was the centerpiece of an enthralling
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra program led by Paavo Järvi on Friday night, which opened with Haydn and ended with Stravinsky.
It was a well-matched program, and hearing Stravinsky’s remarkable “Symphony in Three Movements,” following last week’s “Symphony of Psalms,” made me wonder why we don’t hear this music more often. With the orchestra’s playing in peak form, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto in E-flat Major is unique for its powerful writing, despite its often chamber music-like textures. Järvi dedicated the performance to Mstislav “Slava” Rostropovich, who died in April and for whom it was written.Kim has been principal cellist of the orchestra since 1989. From the first note, his performance was assertive and confident, and he projected a big, mellow tone with a relaxed technique. He plunged ahead with a kind of relentless energy, and that made it all the more arresting.Shostakovich’s slow movement is introspective and moving. Here, the soloist’s view was haunting and coolly detached, and Kim’s high harmonics were stunning against the dazzling horn of principal player Elizabeth Freimuth. The finale, largely a solo cadenza, was gripping for its almost vocal color. Järvi and the orchestra were superb partners.What a treat it was to hear Haydn’s Symphony No. 98 in B-flat Major, not heard at the CSO since 1982, which opened the evening. Its hallmarks were clarity, freshness of spirit and warmth, as Järvi illuminated details with inventive turns of every phrase.The orchestra’s attack was crisp and orchestral soloists soared. If a movement stood out, it was the minuet, which was unexpectedly robust and earthy.Stravinsky was inspired by world events – especially World War II – for his “Symphony in Three Movements” of 1945. Musically, the work is a brilliant synthesis of everything he’s known for: rhythmic energy, bubbling ostinatos, primitive power, lush orchestral color and neoclassicism.Its extraordinary twists and turns of mood, profusion of melodies and ever-changing rhythms and meters make it complex to play. Yet the directness and drive of this performance made it all clear, and the result was irresistible.It was all there – the brilliance, the drama and the tongue-in-cheek humor, such as the piano and trombone duo that launches the last-movement fugue. The orchestra’s playing was precise, and became more relaxed and spontaneous as they progressed.The “Stravinsky Festival” repeats at 8 p.m. today in Music Hall. 513-381-3300.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleAID=/20071110/ENT03/71109022/1025/LIFE

Friday, November 09, 2007

CSO serves up more Stravinsky



November 8, 2007

The Cincinnati Post


The CSO led by music director Paavo Järvi continues its focus on Igor Stravinsky with his 1945 Symphony in Three Movements at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Music Hall.
Soloist will be CSO principal cellist Eric Kim in Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1, to be performed in memory of Mstislav Rostropovich. The great Russian cellist (for whom the concerto was written) died last spring.

The concert opens with Haydn's Symphony No. 98.
Though written during Stravinsky's "neo-classic" period when he revisited classical and baroque forms, the material used in his Symphony in Three Movements reflects that of his early ballets like "The Rite of Spring."
Following Saturday's concert, there will be a "Bohemian Bash" in the Music Hall foyer, which will be transformed into a Parisian café recalling Stravinsky's years in the French capital. Admission is free to ticketholders and will include live jazz by the Faux Frenchmen, beverages and desserts.
Come at 7 p.m. Friday or Saturday and learn more about Stravinsky and the program in a pre-concert "Classical Conversation" by Joel Hoffman, professor of composition at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and CSO assistant conductor Eric Dudley.
Tickets are $12-$75.25, $10 for students, half-price for seniors. Call (513) 381-3300, or order online at


Half-price tickets are available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. concert days at the CSO box office in Music Hall.
The CSO Chamber Players conclude the CSO's two-week "Stravinsky Festival" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Memorial Hall with his theater piece "L'histoire du soldat," narrated by Stacey Woolley. Järvi is saving the "big bang," Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," for the final concerts of the CSO season May 2 and 3 at Music Hall.

Stravinsky Festival: Part 2



November 9, 2007
The Cincinnati Enquirer
By Janelle Gelfand

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra continues its Stravinsky Festival, celebrating the 125th birthday of the composer, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday in Music Hall.
Paavo Järvi leads Haydn's Symphony No. 98 and Stravinsky's extraordinary "Symphony in Three Movements." Eric Kim, the orchestra's principal cellist, will take the solo spot in Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1.
On Saturday, the audience is invited to stay after for a free "Bohemian Bash" in the lobby, with jazz by the Faux Frenchman and desserts.
Tickets: $12-$75.25; $10 students. 513-381-3300,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

BP Chicago Symphony Radio Broadcast Series

November 4, 2007
http://www.cso.org/

Listen again online November 5 - November 18

Program # CSO 07-31 Here is some fresh programming by guest conductor Paavo Järvi, from a concert in November, 2006. Besides the rarely-heard Kodály Concerto for Orchestra, he introduces a work by his Estonian compatriot, Erkki-Sven Tüür, and brings back the charming, folk-based Concerto for Orchestra by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski.
Kodály Concerto for Orchestra (CSO commission) Paavo Järvi, Conductor
Gershwin Piano Concerto in F Major Paavo Järvi, Conductor Wayne Marshall, piano
Tüür Zeitraum (U.S. premiere) Paavo Järvi, Conductor
Lutosławski Concerto for Orchestra Paavo Järvi, Conductor
Sibelius Finlandia Paavo Järvi, Conductor

http://www.cso.org/main.taf?p=15,1,37

CONCERT REVIEW: Lars Vogt, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra

October, 2007
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Gewaltiger Klangstau
Paavo Järvi dirigiert Spätwerke und Sibelius

Mahlers letzte Sinfonie und Mozarts letztes Klavierkonzert sind Musikstücke, die durch typische Merkmale eines Spätwerks charakterisiert sind. Für Mozart gilt dies ungeachtet dessen, dass dem Komponisten lediglich 35 Jahre Lebenszeit beschieden waren. Doch die Gunst der Zeit war selbst ihm abhold. Das flüchtige Interesse der Gesellschaft war ihm längst abhandengekommen, und da man ihn schon hatte fallenlassen, musste er auch weniger Rücksicht auf Konvention, Gefälligkeit und das prickelnde Bedürfnis nach Virtuosität jener "Langohren" nehmen, die manchmal die Säle und Salons okkupierten. Mozarts Konzert für Klavier und Orchester Nr. 27 B-Dur KV 595, von dem die Rede ist, wurde jedenfalls ein introvertiert klingendes Werk voller Melancholie und stark gedämpfter Emotion. Lars Vogt, der Mozarts letzten Gattungsbeitrag jetzt zusammen mit dem hr-Sinfonieorchester unter der Leitung seines Chefdirigenten Paavo Järvi beim Freitagskonzert in der Alten Oper interpretierte, verband den Grundgedanken eines idealen Schwebezustands mit einer kristallin transparenten Anschlagtechnik, mit der er sich nirgends in den Vordergrund spielte. Alles blieb in dieser Darstellung moderat, auch Järvis Begleitung mit dem musikalisch gleichwohl stets präsenten hr-Sinfonieorchester. Ganz anders zu Beginn des Abends das Adagio aus Gustav Mahlers Sinfonie Nr. 10: Auch diese Musik scheint in ihrer Abgeklärtheit zuweilen wie aus einer anderen Welt zu kommen, doch birgt sie eine kumulative Kraft von zuweilen fast bedrohlicher Intensität. Denn wiewohl die Musik in sich zu kreisen und Entwicklungen zu verbergen vermag, spitzt sich der Klang doch kontinuierlich zu bis zu jenem legendären Neuntonakkord, mit dem Mahler in neue Dimensionen des Komponierens vordringt. Paavo Järvi, dessen suggestive und detailgenaue Darbietung - eine kleine Geigenirritation in Takt 164 ausgenommen - auf eine intensive Probenarbeit schließen lässt, ließ es sich nicht nehmen, auf die radikal modernen Elemente dieser Musik hinzuweisen. Erstaunlicherweise gelang ihm solches selbst in Jean Sibelius' Sinfonie Nr. 5 Es-Dur op. 82 mühelos. Das scheinbar harmlose, in Wahrheit ziemlich intrikate, mit klassischen Formen und Inhalten wenig kompatible Werk enthält harmonische Schärfen und rhythmische Besonderheiten, über die oft allzu oberflächlich hinwegmusiziert wird. Und obwohl diese Musik doch eher durch Orgelpunkte denn durch kontrapunktische Entwicklungen gekennzeichnet ist, erscheinen manche Phasen in rasendem Tempo, das jedoch in das Korsett einer quasi übergeordneten, abbremsenden Bewegung gezwängt wird, die mit der Kraft der Musik nicht konform geht. So entsteht ein gewaltiger Klangstau, der sich am Ende in heftigen, durch Generalpausen unterbrochenen Orchesterschlägen löst. In Paavo Järvis Darbietung klang dies sehr beeindruckend, was auch durch den starken Beifall bestätigt wurde.
HARALD BUDWEG